Prize-winning speech given by Bruce Langstaff
When my grandpa was young
Bruce is the Great-Great-Great Grandson of Abner Miles, whose daughter Lucy married John Langstaff, first school teacher on Yonge Street. Abner Miles was the first store and tavern keeper in Richmond Hill. “Grandpa” is Dr. Rolph Langstaff.
Our house is 103 years old. It was built of rough cast, later sheeted, and now it is clapboard. I am one of the fourth generation to grow up in it. When my grandfather was young, there wasn't any furnace or insulation to keep the inside of the house warm. When you woke up in the morning you could see your breath half way across the room. Nobody would dare leave a pitcher of water out or it would freeze and crack the pitcher. There were four fireplaces, two upstairs and two downstairs. The two upstairs fireplaces were very dangerous. One day Grandpa came home from church and one room was on fire. When they got it out they called it the Burnt Room. The two chimneys had to be taken out, so to-day there is only one. Later it was heated by five wood stoves.
Another thing is that the taxes were only $18.96 on our property in the year 1896. My grandpa said that at the bottom of the tax slip it showed that this municipality owed no money. Our living and dining room were hospital rooms. Our present kitchen was the operating room. It had a skylight window in the roof and my Grandpa did over two hundred operations in it. Dr. Bruce and my Grandpa got nurses when they came out of operating room training in Toronto Western Hospital.
Our present nursery table used to be Grandpa's operating table. The top was removable so when my Grandpa wanted to put a patient into his bed he just picked up the top, carried it into the hospital room, and rolled the patient gently into bed. One nurse helped Grandpa with over 50 operations.
Some games my Grandpa used to play when he was young were - Shinny, Emmeline Shaver, Whistle The Rat, Pom Pom Pull Away, and Jimmy Nagtails.
My Grandpa says that children of to-day are spoon fed, because he used to have to go out and make his own fun, while now we have Television, Radios and Movies handed to us.
Another thing Grandpa used to do was to slide in the hay. One day as I they were doing that they fell into a deep, dark hole. One of Grandpa's sister, Mrs. McConaghy now, started to pray and just as she was saying “Amen” my Grandpa leaned back and a door flew open and he fell into the cow stable. They called this an answer to their prayers.
When Grandpa was young, Yonge Street was a cracked stone road which was paved only about 25 years ago. The amazing thing about it is that Grandpa used to ride to Toronto on a bicycle. It had a big front wheel and a little back wheel. They were hard tires so if you hit something too hard with the little wheel, it would go up and YOU would go over the handle bars. At that time there were three toll-gates between here and Toronto. Sometimes I when my Grandpa went to medical meetings he got home so late that the toll-gates were closed so he had to climb the wall, lift the bicycle over, climb down and go on.
When Grandpa was a boy, the school had three rooms. It was of brick and I frame and it was on the same site as it is now. There were three teachers, one used a strap, one used a straight ruler, and one used a cane to keep order. For a while Grandpa went to Private School where he was always second in his class the reason being that there were only two in the class.
The teachers were paid from $275 in Public School to $400 in High School yearly.
There weren’t any Oratorical Contests and my Grandpa didn't have to say a speech when he was nine.